News / Health

Researchers Say Acts of Kindness Key to Students’ Happiness

TEXT SIZE - +
Jessica Berman
School children who make an effort to be nice to their peers are happier and may learn better than children who do not perform acts of kindness. Researchers believe that kindness among students might also promote greater peer acceptance and reduce bullying.

A team of Canadian and U.S. psychologists conducted this first-ever study of behavior that can promote happiness in children.  According to research leader Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, an educational psychologist at the University of British Columbia, previous investigations have focused on stressed-out and depressed adults, studying whether performing acts of kindness made them feel better.   

Four hundred Vancouver school children between the ages of 9 and 11 were asked to name the classmates they most liked to work with in school and social activities, and to describe how happy they were. Then they were divided into two groups.

One group was assigned to perform an act of kindness once a week, such as sharing their lunch with another student or giving their mother a hug when she felt stressed.

The students in the control group were asked to keep track of pleasant places they had visited each week, such as a park, or a grandparent's house.

After four weeks, all the students were again asked about their happiness, and to identify which of their classmates they would like to work with.

“The kids that remembered the places that they went to also increased in their happiness by remembering these...prominent locations," Schonert-Reichl says. " But the difference was that the kids that did the acts of kindness ended up increasing how much they liked each other in the classroom more. There were more kids that liked each other as opposed to the control group."

Although it was not part of their study, Schonert-Reichl suggests that students who perform acts of kindness may be less likely to pick on or bully children they consider weak or different... and less likely to be bullied themselves.

“Of course, we have to have more scientific evidence that shows that it does decrease bullying.  But I would have to say if you like that person you are less likely to bully that person,” Schonert-Reichl says.

And Schoenert-Reichl says there are also indications that happier kids are more likely to be better students, because their minds are more open to learning new information.

“Interestingly, there’s some research that actually shows that if you are a professor or a teacher, and you are grading paper when you are happier, you actually give higher marks,” Schonert-Reichl says.

The study by Kimberly Schonert-Reichl and colleagues on the positive effects of kind acts among school children is published in the journal PLoS One.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Carol from: Wisconsin
December 31, 2012 10:17 AM
I would say 'Acts of Kindness Key to Happiness' and leave out the "Students'" qualification. People are people.


by: Robyn from: New York
December 29, 2012 2:57 PM
I wonder if the same holds true of students who are treated kindly by their teachers? I always learned more from the nice teachers than from the ones who seemed to have gone into the profession simply to take out their hatred on children.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid